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Priority 1: Laws and safety

Priority 1: Laws and safety


Adapting our laws

Regulation plays a vital role in allowing products and services to come to market and protecting the safety and interests of society.

NSW has established a legal framework for the safe testing of conditionally, highly and fully automated vehicle trials (levels 3, 4 and 5) on NSW roads, including driverless vehicles.

As design standards for Australian vehicles are regulated by the Australian Government, we need consistent national regulations and guidance to provide confidence and certainty to industry and the community.

This is particularly important for CAVs, an area of rapid technological change with clear implications for laws and processes for roads, drivers, vehicle importation, insurance and other issues, where regulation could act as either a barrier or an enabler for positive change.

Our priority is to work with the Australian Government to establish regulations to support the safe adoption and use of CAVs. The regulatory framework will need to be consistently applied across Australia and flexible enough to remain effective during the complex transition to a CAV future.

We are working with the Australian Government, the National Transport Commission (NTC) and other jurisdictions to put in place harmonised national laws and policies for CAVs, including to assure their safety. In November 2017, national Transport Ministers agreed to: 

  • have a national end-to-end regulatory framework in place by 2020 (subject to change at Ministerial discretion) to support safe, commercial deployment and operation of automated vehicles at all levels of automation 
  • develop a national safety assurance system for automated vehicles, based on mandatory self-certification, transitioning to pre-market approval when international standards for automated vehicles are incorporated into Australian laws and standards. Figure 10 shows the projects underway at the national level.23


Current initiatives 2018 - 2022

Figure 10: Image source 24

While the national regulatory framework focuses on longer-term mass market deployment, the NSW legal framework is focused on enabling and supporting trials in NSW, so we can learn from the technology in real-world applications as soon as practicable, and is aligned with the national guidelines for trials of automated vehicles in Australia.25


Policy reform: Legislation to allow the trial of automated vehicles in NSW

Automated vehicles that do not meet current Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and/or could operate without a driver (for e.g. level 3, 4 or 5 vehicles), cannot be operated on Australian roads as current vehicle standards and laws require that vehicles meet the ADRs and have a driver in control of the vehicle at all times.

Under the NSW Transport Legislation Amendment (Automated Vehicle Trials and Innovation) Act, which commenced in August 2017, the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight can approve applications to conduct trials of automated vehicles in NSW, by Ministerial Exemption Order which specifies the trial location, vehicle(s), scope, conditions, and most importantly, responsibility for the vehicle(s) used in the trial. The Act also sets out insurance and vehicle supervision requirements and contains penalties for improper vehicle use or interference.

This legislative framework has already been used to enable the Smart Shuttle trial at the Sydney Olympic Park and will also be used to facilitate further trials, including the regional ones.

Together, these measures will provide for the safe and smooth introduction of CAVs in Australia and support the best outcomes for industry, customers and the community.

We also need to stay flexible, ensuring our regulations for vehicles and services, including passenger transport legislation, are able to respond to future technology and market developments.


Safer vehicles – now and in the future

NSW has a State Priority target to reduce road fatalities by 30 per cent by 2021 (compared to 2011 levels) and, as outlined in Future Transport 2056, a longer term goal to have zero road trauma by 2056.‘Safer vehicles’ is a key component of the Safe System approach that underpins the NSW Government’s Road Safety Plan 2021. Automated safety systems – such as lane keeping assist, forward collision warnings and automated emergency braking – are increasingly important in helping to avoid a crash or reduce the impact when a crash occurs. These technologies are already available in some of the newest vehicles on the road. Increasing their use will be vital to improve safety – especially in regional NSW, which accounts for one-third of NSW’s population but two-thirds of the State’s fatalities.

Figure 11: Image source 28

NSW is already facilitating the uptake of safer vehicles through supporting the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), truck and bus safety features and standards, and testing and harnessing emerging advanced safety technologies – including via our FleetCAT trial and Cooperative Intelligent Transport Initiative (CITI) project. The NSW Road Safety Plan 2021 also includes measures to promote adoption of automated safety technologies, such as changing the government fleet procurement policy with the subsequent benefit of increasing the technology available in the used car fleet.

Given that we are a relatively small marketplace in terms of global volume, there may be a need to prioritise measures that will encourage manufacturers to supply a broad range of affordable models with advanced safety features for purchase.

Case study: Cooperative Intelligent Transport Initiative (CITI)

The CITI project in the Illawarra Region is Australia’s first cooperative ITS testing facility and one of the largest connected heavy vehicle safety trials in the world. Operating since 2014, the trial has fitted connected vehicle technology to around 60 heavy trucks, 11 buses, 50 light passenger vehicles, and 1 motorcycle. 7 signalised intersections, 4 roadside stations, and 1 rail level crossing have so far been equipped with cooperative ITS. The technology will allow vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other and traffic signals up to 10 times a second, and alert drivers to upcoming hazards, improving road safety. Watch the CITI project video.

In January 2018, the NSW Government announced an investment of $1.6 million to upgrade the Crashlab, which will provide NSW with world-class vehicle safety testing capabilities to assess new and emerging safety technologies, such as automated emergency braking and other advanced driver assistance systems.

The NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) has announced a six-month telematics trial to encourage safer driving behaviour by young drivers, with participants receiving $100 via the NSW Green Slip scheme.

As technology advances, CAVs will offer even greater potential to improve road safety. We want to remove barriers to adoption and accelerate uptake to capitalise on the potential of these technologies to make NSW roads safer for all.


Priority 1: Laws and Safety

In the next five years, NSW will aim to:

  1. Support implementation of nationally consistent regulation, standards, policies and safety assurance regimes that ensure that conditionally automated vehicles (level 3) can operate safely and legally on NSW roads before 2020, and highly and fully automated vehicles (levels 4 and 5) from 2020
  2. Increase the proportion of passenger and freight vehicles in NSW with the latest CAV safety technologies

Trials and projects:

1.1 Undertake trials to:

  • test the safety benefits of advanced driver assistance systems, such as collision avoidance systems, on NSW fleets, including buses
  • test physical separation of highly automated vehicles (level 4) from other road users on roads where this could accelerate deployment, without impacting safety or congestion
  • assess how advanced driver assistance systems, including driver monitoring systems, and connected vehicle technology could promote safer driving, including reducing driver distraction

1.2 Partner with industry to prepare educational safety material for drivers in NSW who purchase partially, conditionally or highly automated vehicles (levels 2, 3 and 4)

1.3 Work with governments, industry and academia to manage the safety challenges posed by CAVs, including through the Cooperative Intelligent Transport Initiative, Automated Vehicle Infrastructure Initiative and FleetCAT initiative


1.4 Continue work with the Australian Government, other states and territories, industry and academia to develop national laws, standards, road rules and policy guidelines to support the safe introduction of CAVs

1.5 Work with the Australian Government to establish clear, nationally-consistent processes for obtaining special import approval for non-standard (including left hand drive) and highly automated vehicles (level 4)

1.6 Have safety and cybersecurity management plans and frameworks in place for managing use of connected and highly automated vehicles (level 4) on NSW roads, including interaction with human-driven vehicles and other road users

1.7 Review and, where necessary, adapt arrangements for vehicle registration and licensing, and driver licensing, testing and training, to account for CAVs

In addition to the above actions, the NSW Road Safety Plan 2021 outlines several actions to improve road safety through the adoption of new and proven vehicle technologies. These include:

  • Updating NSW Government fleet vehicle policy to increase the proportion of the fleet with the latest safety technologies
  • Increasing uptake of safer new and used vehicles, particularly by younger and older road users, country residents and fleet managers through new public communications
  • Investigating opportunities with the insurance industry to reduce premiums for customers who adopt safer vehicle technologies and telematics.
  • Partnering with the heavy vehicle industry to increase safety features in the fleet and enhance integration of fleet safety into heavy vehicle access policy
  • Working with the Australian Government to fast-track the adoption of new technologies into vehicle standards, including for commercial and heavy vehicles

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

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